Instagram users are urging the company to plant millions of trees after a sticker went viral and backfired.

On Monday, a sticker spread rapidly across Instagram, and has since been shared more than 4 million times.

The sticker said only: “We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture,” alongside a dog emoji. Numerous people quickly joined in, sharing pictures of their cats, dogs and other animals in the hope of helping out.

But there was no indication who the “we” that promised to plant the trees actually was. While the sticker proved hugely popular, there was no indication that anything would actually happen.

What’s more, it appeared too good to be true: people could help out with a global issue just by sharing cute pictures of their pets.

Now an Instagram account called PlantATreeCo has claimed responsibility for the sticker, saying that it had originally posted it in the hope of raising awareness.

Within10 minutes, however, it said that it had seen the viral potential of the sticker and that it “didn’t have the resources to plant that many trees, so we deleted it 10 minutes later”.

Even after it was deleted by the account, it continued to live on as a sticker, but now without the information about who had originally posted it, the account claimed.

PlantATreeCo is a company that sells necklaces, and commits to plant a tree for every one that is sold. It says that it aims to plant a million by the end of 2021 – though it has only planted 6,500 trees so far.

In its explanatory post, it urged users to tag Instagram to alert them to the bug. The post is now being flooded with comments suggesting that the company should help with planting the trees, given the vast amounts of engagement that the sticker created.

Instagram did not immediately reply to a request for comment on those requests, or the sticker more generally.

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